Antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) directed to proteinase 3 (PR3-ANCA) or myeloperoxidase (MPO-ANCA) are closely associated with the idiopathic systemic necrotizing vasculitides, in particular Wegener's granulomatosis, microscopic polyangiitis and its renal limited manifestation, and Churg Strauss Syndrome. Many in vitro studies show that those ANCA have phlogistic potential, particularly at the interface of neutrophils and endothelial cells. A limited number of studies in experimental animals support their pathogenetic role. However, ANCA alone are not sufficient, as based on clinical and experimental data, and other, probably exogenous factors, seem necessary for disease induction and (re)activation. Among those silica and particularly, the carriage of Staphylococcus aureus have been proposed. Besides, various genetic factors are involved in disease susceptibility. The ANCA-associated vasculitides are systemic autoimmune diseases in which the interplay of autoimmunity with environmental and genetic factors determines their clinical expression.